Acid reflux is a common ailment but frequently overlooked by Hongkongers.
Unless they give it timely medical attention, people who suffer from this condition may face a host of health problems such as inflammation, ulcers and bleeding in the digestive tract.
They could feel pain in the throat and their teeth could weaken. The condition gives them frequent heartburn.
Patients may face a higher risk of cancer in the long term.
From the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine, acid reflux could be traced to anxiety, stagnation of energy flow between the liver and the stomach, as well as poor eating habits such as having irregular meals, overeating, taking meals in a hurry, or eating food with very strong flavors.
Patients often experience an acidic stomach, hiccups or a burning pain behind the breastbone.
Clinically, patients could be classified into three major types:
1. Those who get angry easily. They often experience a dry throat, burning or warmth behind the breastbone and pain on the sides of the upper abdomen. Acid reflux rises when they are tired or anxious. Strong emotions like anger and frustration affect the liver, causing a stagnation of energy, which would then upset the stomach.
2. Those who feel strong a thirst but not craving water. They experience burning pain behind the breastbone and constipation. These symptoms are a result of certain heat caused by poor eating habits.
3. Those who have weak spleen and stomach, although they help themselves to warm drinks and food. They look tired, experience loose or watery stool, and feel warmth behind the breastbone.
Treatment involves correctly identifying the root problem of the patient and removing the corresponding undesirable factors. For instance, if it is caused by anxiety, patients should be assisted to relieve their stress so that the natural flow of energy is restored.
Taking Chinese herbs would help remove excessive heat and facilitate stronger spleen and stomach.
Acupuncture would help regulate and stimulate gastrointestinal functions, and reduce the body’s reception of pain.
Foot massage could also help as the feet are the body’s foundation and they reflect the condition of the whole body.
Pressing on the corresponding acupuncture points of the feet would increase bodily functions and help reduce acid secretion.
People who have acid reflux should get into a healthy eating habit.
It is best for them to have their breakfast between seven and nine in the morning, when the stomach has maximum energy and ample supply of digestive juice because the body is expecting food.
Meanwhile, dinner should be light and taken early. Avoid high-protein items such as seafood and meat if it is served after eight in the evening.
No late-night snacks or any food three hours before sleep and always avoid food items that are difficult to digest.
Make sure biscuits are readily available and eat them when you feel strong acidity in your stomach.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 30.
Translation by Darlie Yiu
[Chinese version 中文版]
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